Coming of Age: Ceremonies from Bar Mitzvahs to Quinceañeras

Coming of age ceremonies happen once in a person’s lifetime. Here’s how to make these parties one the honoree will never, ever forget.

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Coming of age ceremonies aren’t just a big deal because they’re an important birthday.
These milestones have an important cultural significance that should be respected within the party that you plan.Every culture has their own way of celebrating a person growing older and stepping into woman or manhood.
Here are three examples of coming of age ceremonies you may have to one day plan an event for.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah

The Jewish coming of age traditions of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs take place when a girl is 12 and a boy is 13; Bar Mitzvahs being for males and Bat Mitzvahs being for females. Under Jewish Law, girls and boys must be able to formally observe all Jewish commandments once they reach this age, signifying adulthood.

Adulthood is a very big theme within a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. At their respective celebratory ages, boys and girls of the Jewish faith can officially participate in religious ceremonies, converse with adults and count in the minyan. It’s acknowledged that the children aren’t physically or legally adults, but that they do have more responsibilities and religious burdens.

These parties are often large and involve many extended family members, usually there to see the birthday boy or girl ceremoniously read from the Torah or Haftorah as a sign of their transition from child to religious adult.

Sweet 16

A Sweet 16 party isn’t race or religion-specific. Instead, a Sweet 16 is simply an American and Canadian tradition that most teenagers of the middle and upper classes take place in.

While turning 16 doesn’t signify adulthood, it does revolve around the age where teens can legally drive — this comes with a sense of freedom and responsibility. Because of this age specification, a typical Sweet 16 gift is a car.

These celebrations are often very extravagant and raucous. Typically associated with American girls, the decorations are often lavish and pink. Boys can also be thrown Sweet 16 parties, though the trend is most commonly associated with teenage girls.

Quinceañera

Finally, the quinceañera is a time-honored tradition in Hispanic culture.
This signifies a young Latina woman turning 15, as hinted at by the shortened slang term “quince.”
This coming of age ceremony is steeped in religion (Catholicism usually) and family tradition.

Traditional quinceañeras begin at a special Mass held in the birthday girl’s honor.
Here she renews her baptismal vows, solidifying her commitment to faith, her family and to herself.
This is the more traditional part of the celebration; Hispanic girls often train extensively for this moment.
After the mass is when the real fun begins!

A staple of the typical quinceañera is the father-daughter dance.
A father is the first person to dance with his daughter before giving her to someone else, signifying her becoming a woman and his acceptance of her.

Above all, a coming of age party is supposed to be a very special time for a family.
The honoree is being culturally recognized for their maturity and growing responsibility, while their family and friends are there to see them blossom into a mature young man or woman.
It is the job of a party planner to make this day more special than it already is.

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